HOLLYWOOD, FLA. (WSVN) - A popular beachwear company headquartered in Hollywood released its first ad campaign featuring a model with Down syndrome.
When you go on Surf Style’s website, you’re greeted with its newest model 16-year-old Ethan Holt.
He’s seen posing in front of the company’s flagship store on Clearwater Beach.
It’s all thanks in part to a non-profit that teamed up with the company.
Help Us Gather (HUG), also based in Florida, is dedicated to advocating for inclusion.
They spent months trying to get Holt a modeling gig to kick off his career.
“We know Ethan has something special, and I believed that companies would choose to have people of all abilities represent them in advertising campaigns, if given the opportunity,” said Robin Lally, founder of HUG.
When Surf Style saw the opportunity to help, they immediately went for it.
“At Surf Style, we believe in the importance of representation, diversity and inclusion,” said Tara Malinasky, Marketing Manager at Surf Style. “We strive to create an atmosphere of inclusion in all of our stores. When Help Us Gather approached us with this opportunity, we were eager to participate. We hope this sets an example for other brands to feature those with disabilities in their marketing efforts, as well. “
According to the Center for Disease Control, one in four adults in the United States live with a disability.
Many feel like modeling and getting involved in ad campaigns are tough gigs to break into, but non-profits like HUG want to change that.
“Surf Style has gone above and beyond to show they value inclusion and understand the importance of showing models with disabilities in their marketing,” said Lally. “They are setting the bar for companies and organizations everywhere.”
HUG also set up a page for Holt to get future gigs.
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